A Christmas Story

Rated: PG
Runtime: 1 Hour and 34 Minutes

Reviewer: Erik
Grade: A-

"A Christmas Story" is a rare gem, something whose brilliance wasn't recognized at first, but has grown on us for years on end until it has become impossible to find someone who hasn't seen it. Go ahead, I dare ya
The movie stars Peter Billingsley as Ralphie, a little boy who desperately wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Melinda Dillon, the mother, tells him what he doesn't want to hear: "You'll shoot your eye out!" He'll hear this from a lot of people in the course of the movie, but he's determined.

It's hard to pinpoint a plot here. It's more like a bunch of chance occurrences that add up to a fun time. Ralphie will envision saving his family with his new gun, he'll envision getting an A on his Christmas theme in class, he'll do his best to fight off local bullies.

There's more. Kids get into trouble. Ralphie will get into a fight, accidentally utter the F-word and be part of a dare that results in the movie's biggest laugh, although not all at once. And when he gets his mouth washed out with soap, he envisions a revenge of sorts that's funny.

The movie is loaded with interesting little characters. Ralph's brother Randy is one of those kids who would rather play with food than eat it. He also has the unfortunate trouble of trying to get to school while wearing ten layers of clothing. Ralph's "Old Man" is one of those not-too-bright guys who thinks he knows it all. There's an encounter with Santa Claus and his elves, and none of them seem too merry. There's a creepy kid in line who offers unengaging talk. There are a lot of funny scenes. The neighbors' dogs seem to show up at the worst times. The Old Man will win a prize that the mother hates and quite possibly eliminates. Ralphie will use his Orphan Annie to decode a message that may be crucial to all of civilization...or not. And Ralphie will open a gift that will bring him the ultimate in embarrassment.

Perhaps the biggest testament to this movie is that it's worked itself up the ladder and now sits proudly alongside Christmas classics like "It's A Wonderful Life" and "Miracle On 34th Street." Feel free to debate all you like, but pound for pound, this movie gets more screen time per holiday season than anything else. I'd be willing to bet the house on it. It says a lot that a relatively-modern Christmas movie gets so much recognition at Christmas time.

"A Christmas Story" is loaded with those little moments that make you smile. Some of them hit home, and others are just there for laughs. It's fun, it's light and it's innocent. It's a GREAT Christmas movie.